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Behindlings: A Novel (original 2002; edition 2003)
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Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060933623, Paperback)Behindlings, the fifth novel from Nicola Barker, is a welcome return, both in mood and in geography, to the gothic terrain of her Impac Prize winner Wide Open. Set in parochial Canvey Island, Essex, this book is inventive, funny, unnerving, and often magnificently strange.
Barker's Canvey (once dubbed "Candy Island" by Daniel Defoe) is, with its Wimpy Bar, dreary pubs, and long-cherished grudges, rumours, and secrets, a quintessentially English small town. Its emotionally damaged population is augmented by the "Behindlings" of the title, a gaggle of oddballs who follow, or more precisely obsessively stalk, the novel's enigmatic central character, Wesley. The architect of a chocolate company-funded treasure hunt, author of a pseudo-Nietzschean walking guide and the man behind the daring theft of an antique pond, he is a rather malevolent Pied Piper. Part Alvin Toffler-quoting, peripatetic environmental visionary, part immoral (and maybe downright evil) fraudster, he's also notorious for feeding the fingers on his right hand to an eagle owl "in an act of penance" for accidentally killing his brother.
Barker has always had a penchant for the surreal, and occasionally here both plot and characterization can get swamped in flights of absurdist imagination. She is perhaps too fond of the elaborate simile. The clackety, clackety of the "like" and "as" of her prose style is, from time to time, a little exasperating. Despite this, her narrative is so alluringly, so charmingly odd, bristling with puzzles and etymological games and full of wonderfully, devilishly comic touches, that it's easy to ignore its minor flaws. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk
(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 24 Apr 2011 17:14:01 -0400)
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